escape from freedom
(1941) by Erich Fromm
The crucial difficulty with which we are confronted lies in the fact that the development of man’s intellectual capacities has far outstripped the development of his emotions.
Is there a hidden satisfaction in submitting, and what is its essence? What is it that creates in men an insatiable lust for power? .. What are the psychological conditions that make for the strength of these strivings? What are the social conditions upon which such psychological conditions in turn are based?
we’ve disturbed our undisturbed ecosystem
Though there is no fixed human nature, we cannot regard human nature as being infinitely malleable and able to adapt itself to any kind of conditions without developing a psychological dynamism of its own
which .. is.. isolation/disconnection
This relatedness to others is not identical with physical contact. An individual may be alone in a physical sense for many years and yet he may be related to ideas, ..that give him a feeling of .. “belonging.” On the other hand, he may live among people and yet be overcome with an utter feeling of isolation, the outcome of which, if it transcends a certain limit, is the state of insanity which schizophrenic disturbances represent.
if the economic, social and political conditions on which the whole process of human individuation depends, do not offer a basis for the realization of individuality in the sense just mentioned, while at the same time people have lost those ties which gave them security, this lag makes freedom an unbearable burden. ..Powerful tendencies arise to escape from this kind of freedom into submission or some kind of relationship to man and the world which promises relief from uncertainty, even if it deprives the individual of his freedom.
Escape from Freedom, sometimes known as The Fear of Freedom outside North America, is a book by the Frankfurt-born psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, first published in the United States by Farrar & Rinehart in 1941. In the book, Fromm explores humanity’s shifting relationship with freedom, with particular regard to the personal consequences of its absence. His special emphasis is the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism.
Fromm’s concept of freedom
Fromm distinguishes between ‘freedom from’ (negative freedom) and ‘freedom to’ (positive freedom). The former refers to emancipation from restrictions such as social conventions placed on individuals by other people or institutions.
In the process of becoming freed from authority, we are often left with feelings of hopelessness ..that will not abate until we use our ‘freedom to’ and develop some form of replacement of the old order. ..to eliminate uncertainty by prescribing what to think and how to act.
Fromm examines democracy and freedom. ..Fromm suggests that though we are free from totalitarian influence of any sorts in this kind of society, we are still dominated by the advice of experts and the influence of advertising. The way to become free as an individual is to be spontaneous in our self-expression and in the way we behave. This is crystallised in his existential statement “there is only one meaning of life: the act of living it”. Fromm counters suggestions that this might lead to social chaos by claiming that being truly in touch with our humanity is to be truly in touch with the needs of those with whom we share the world.
one aspect which is crucial for the cultural/social crisis of our day: the meaning of freedom for modern man..t
i feel that the psychologist should offer what he has to contribute to the understanding of the present crisis w/o delay, even though he must sacrifice the desideratum of completeness
it is the thesis of his book that modern man, freed from the bonds of pre individualistic society, which simultaneously gave him security and limited him, has not gained freedom in the positive sense of the realization of his individual self; that is, the expression of his intellectual, emotional and sensuous potentialities.. freedom, though it has brought him independence and rationality, has made him isolated and there by anxious and powerless. this isolation is unbearable and the alts he is confronted w are either to escape from the burden of his freedom into new dependencies and submission, or to advance to the full realization of positive freedom which is based upon the uniqueness and individuality of man..
although this book is a diagnosis rather than a prognosis – analysis rather than solution – its results have a bearing on our course of action..
(25 yrs later)
there can be no doubt that in this last quarter of a century the reasons for man’s fear of freedom, for his anxiety and willing ness to become an automaton have not only continued but have greatly increased..
most important event: atomic energy – fear of not annihilation.. also: cybernetic revolution – fear of being replaced by machines.. also: population explosion
the crucial difficulty with which we are confronted lies in the fact that the development of man’s intellectual capacities has far outstripped the development of his emotions…. how can mankind save itself from destroying itself by this discrepancy between intellectual-technical over-maturity and emotional backwardness..
as far as i can see there is only one answer: the increasing awareness of the most essential fact of our social existence, an awareness .. maybe it will take a *thousand yrs until man has lifted himself from a pre human history of hundreds of thousands of years..at this crucial moment, a modicum of increased insight – objectivity – can make the diff between life and death for the human race.. progress in social psych is necessary to counteract the dangers which arise from the progress in physics and meds..
let’s just try getting back to us.. a do-over.. a reset..
i believe that all essential elements of this analysis (in this book) are still valid; that what they need is expansion and interpretation in many directions. i have tried to do some of this work myself since i wrote escape from freedom. in the sane society i amplified and deepened the analysis of contemporary society; in man for himself i developed the theme of ethical norms based on our knowledge of man, rather than on authority and revelation; in the art of loving i analyzed the various aspects of love; in the heart to man i followed up the roots of destructiveness and hate; in beyond the chains of illusion i analysed the relationship between the thoughts of the two great theorists of a dynamic science of man: marx and freud..
1 – freedom – a psychological problem?
p 9-11 – as ie of black science of people
(on diff between fromm and freud.. since fromm bases much on freud’s operation of unconscious forces in man’s character and their dependence on external influences): for freud, *the individual of his culture represented ‘man’ and those passions and anxieties that are characteristic for man in modern society were looked up on as external forces rooted in the biological constitution of man.. (ie: hostility..evil..) freud always consider the individual in his relations to others. these relations as freud sees them, however , are similar to the economic relations to others which are characteristic of the individual in **capitalist society. each person works for himself, individualistically, at his own risk, and not primarily in cooperation w others..
so.. the *ecosystem is disturbed by money/capitalism.. making the individual works/arts.. not for the good of the whole.. so freud concludes that individuals fundamentally/naturally.. doing their art.. is not going to benefit the whole.. (so.. basically saying.. no interconnectedness) which is like saying.. a great whale is fundamentally/naturally lazy.. just floating a round in one place all day.. dependent on others to feed it.. et al.. based on researching the great whale enclosed in a disturbed ecosystem.. ie: sea world…
but.. man needs others, as customers/employees/employers.. he must buy and sell , give and take.. the market.. regulates these relations.. so (according to freud) indiviudal is primalrity alone and self-sufficient, and then he enters into economic relations with others as amenas to aone end: to sell ant to buy
10 day care ness.. money/market is a disturbance to our ecosystem.. like sea world is to the great whale..
freud’s concept of human relations is essentially the same: the indivdual appears fully equipped with biologically given drives, which need to be satisfied (to buy/sell).. in order to satisfy them, the individual enters into relations w other ‘objects’..
people become objects to commodifty (buy/sell.. put a price on) in freud’s version of the roots of humanity
contrary to freud’s viewpoint, the analysis offered in this book is based on the assumption that the key problem of psychology is that of the specific kind of relatedness of the indivdiual towards the world and not that of the *satisfaction or frustration of this or that institutional need per se; further more on the assumption that th erelationship betwee man and society is nto a static one..
so.. according to freud..*satisfaction comes from being able to price things/people.. and to buy and sell them.. imagine if we thought a whale’s true needs were that a man would come and drop some fish in for him to eat.. so.. thinking the whale needs the man.. to get food.. because he only floats around in a small space all day.. appearing lazy..
the main theme of this book: that man, the more he gains freedom in the sense of emerging from the original oneness w man and nature and the more he becomes and ‘individual’ has no choice but to unite himself w the world in the spontaneity of love and productive work or else to seek a kind of security by such ties w the world as destroy his freedom and the integrity of his individual self..
2 – the emergence of the individual and the ambiguity of freedom
our main top: what freedom means to modern man, and why/how he tries to escape from it..
(on individuation having 2 parts: self id.. and isolation.. and that a child’s attempts to over come loneliness assuming the character of submission) the result of submission is the every opposite of what it was to be: submission increases the child’s insecurity and at the same time creates hostility and rebelliousness, which is the more frightening since it is directed against the very persons on whom the child has remained – or become – dependent..
however, submission is not the only way of avoiding aloneness and anxiety. .. the other way, the only one which is productive and does not end in an insoluble conflict, is that of spontaneous relationship to man and nature, a relationship that connects the individual w the world w/o eliminating his individuality…. this kind of relationship – the foremost expression of which are love and productive work – are rooted in the integration and strength of the total personality and are therefore subject to the very limits that exist for the growth of the self..
child becomes more free to develop/express own self.. but also becomes more free from a world which gave it security and reassurance
if every step in direction of separation and individuation were matched by corresponding growth of the self, the development of the child would be harmonious. this does not occur however….while the process of individuation takes place automatically.. the growth of the self is hampered for a number or individual and social reasons.. the lag between these two trends results in an unbearable feeling of isolation and powerlessness, and this in turn leads to psychic mechs, which later on are described as mechs of escape
because we’re living in a disturbed ecosystem we can change that.. if we let go of man made institutions ie: school, work, market, ..
there is peace and no necessity to work; there is no choice, no freedom no thinking either. man is forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.. from the standpoint of man.. this is the beginning of human freedom.. acting against god’s order means freeing himself from coercion..
i don’t buy that.. if god was going to be coercive.. adam and eve wouldn’t have had that choice to make in the first place .. i believe his warning (or whatever you call it) had more to do with the corruption knowledge can bring.. ie: thinking you are gods.. powering/lording it over others others.. et al.. which we seem to have pretty substantial proof that that is true
knowledge as a means of power.. as an end in itself (whatever).. is a disturbance to our ecosystem
god proclaims war between man and woman, and war between nature and man.. man has become separate from nature, he has *taken the first step toward becoming human by becoming an ‘individual’
the newly won freedom appears as a curse; he is free from the sweet bondage of paradise but he is not free to govern himself, to realize his individuality
there is only one possible, productive solution for the relationship of individualized man w the world:
his active solidarity w all men and his spontaneous activity,
love and work, which unite him again w the world, not by primary ties but as a free and independent individual..
has to be interdependent
however if the econ, social and political conditions on which the whole process of human individuation depends, do not offer a basis for the realization of individuality in the sense just mentioned, while at the same time people have lost those ties which gave them security, this lag makes freedom an unbearable burden.. powerful tendencies arise to escape from this kind of freedom into submission or some kind of relationship to man and the world which promises relief from uncertainty, even if it deprives the individual of his freedom
by analyzing the essential feature of capitalism and individualism at their very roots one is able to contrast them w an economic system and a type of personality which was fundamentally different from ours. this very contrast gives a better perspective for the understanding of the peculiarities of the modern social system, of how it has shaped the character structure of people who live in it and the new spirit which resulted from this change in personality
this idea of the unworthiness of the individual, his fundamental inability to rely on himself and his need to submit, is also the main theme of hitler’s ideology, which , however lacks the emphasis on freedom and moral principles which was inherent in protestantism..
ideological and social similarities w now (1940s) and 15th-16th cent.. then as now a vast sector of the population was threatened in its traditional way of life by revolutionary changes in the economic and social organization; esp was the middle class, as today, threatened by the power of monopolies and the superior strength of capital, and this threat had an important effect on the spirit and the ideology of the threatened sector of society by enhancing the individual’s feeling of aloneness and insignificance..
3 – freedom in the age of the reformation
1 – medieval background and the renaissance
what characterizes medieval in contrast to modern society is its lack of individual freedom
? really.. i see that lack in both
although a person was not free in the modern sense (chained to his role in medieval society), neither was he alone and isolated. in having a distinct unchangeable and unquestionable place in social world from the moment of birth.. man was rooted in a structuralized whole, and thus life had a meaning which left no place/need .. for doubt.. a person was identical w his role in society; he as a peasant, an artisan , a knight, and not an individual who happened to have this or that occupation.. the social order was conceived as a natural order, and being a definite part of it gave a feeling of security and of belonging..
although society was thus structuralized and game man security, yet it kept him in bondage.. a diff kind from that which authoritarianism and oppression in later centuries constituted. medieval society did not deprive the individual of his freedom, because the ‘individual’ did not yet exist.
man was conscious of himself only thru some general category
we still do that.. no..?
the result of this progressive destruction of the medieval social structure was the emergence of the individual in the modern sense..
but at the same time, these same people had lost something: the security and feeling of belonging which the medieval social structure had offered.. they were more free, but they were also more alone… they (renaissance) used their power/wealth to squeeze the last ounce of pleasure out of life; but in doing so, they had to use ruthlessly every means, from physical torture to psychological manipulation, to rule over the masses and to check their competitors w/in their own class.. all human relationships were poisoned by this fierce life and death struggle for the maintenance of power and wealth..
we have reasons to doubt whether the powerful masters of renaissance capitalism were as happy and as secure as they are often pictured.. it seems the new freedom brought: increased feeling of strength and at same time increased isolation/doubt/scepticism, and .. resulting from all these .. anxiety.. it is the same contradiction that we find in the philosophic writings of the humanists.. side by side w their emphasis on human dignity, individuality, and strength, they exhibited insecurity and despair in their philosophy..
solution for insecurity: fame.. it was not a solution which was possible for the powerless masses in that same culture nor one which we shall find in the urban middle class that was the backbone of the reformation..
(comparing renaissance to when child gets to individuation).. full awareness of himself as a separate entity..
significant changes in the psychological atmosphere accompanied the economic development of capitalism. a spirit of restlessness began to pervade life toward the end of the middle ages. the concept of time in the modern sense began to develop. minutes became valuable; a symptom of this new sense of time is the fact that in nurnberg the clocks have been striking the quarter hours since the 16th cent..t
too many holidays began to appear as a misfortune. time was so valuable that one felt one should never spend it for any purpose which was not useful.. work became increasingly a supreme value..t
tweet while reading just now
Love humanity’s optimism (or sex drive). Couple making out on the floor of the airport at 6:00am. Love knows no time.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/gsiemens/status/988881259559452672
the idea of efficiency assumed the role of one of the highest moral virtues.. at the same time, the desire for wealth and material success became the all absorbing passion..
efficiency et al
the study of the arts and sciences is set aside for the bases kind of manual work. all the clever heads, which have been endowed by god w a capacity for nobler studies, are engrossed by commerce, which nowadays is so saturated w dishonesty that it is the last sort of business an honorable man should engage in
one outstanding consequence of the economic changes affected everyone.. the medieval social system was destroyed and w it the stability and relative security it had offered the individual.. now w the beginning of capitalism all classes of society started to move.. there ceased to be a fixed place in the econ order.. the individual was left alone; everything depended on his own effort, not on the security of his traditional status..
each class, however, was affected in a diff way by this development.. for poor.. it meant growing exploitation and impoverishment.. for peasants.. increased econ and personal pressure; the lower nobility faced ruin, although in a diff way.. .. the situation was much more complicated for the urban middle class.. for many a desperate and hopeless fight.. ..even for the more fortunate ones .. the increasing role of capital.. of the market, and of competition, changed their personal situation into one of insecurity, isolation and anxiety..t
competition et al
unwanted stress et al
capital had ceased to be a servant and had become a master..
the new function of the market had a similar effect… the mechanism of the new market seemed to resemble the calvinistic doctrine of predestination, which taught that the individual must make every effort to be good, but that even before his birth it had been decided whether or not he is to be saved. the market day became the day of judgment for the products of human effort..t
productivity et al
growing role of competition.. while it was not completely lacking in medieval society.. the feudal econ system was based on coop and was regulated.. by rules which curbed competition.. w rise of capitalism.. each individual must go ahead.. often confronted w choice of destroying (others) or being destroyed..
capitalism et al
other side.. capitalism freed the individual.. it freed man from the regimentation of the corp system; it allowed him to stand on his own feet and to try his luck.. he became the master of his fate.. individual effort could lead him to success and economic independence.. money became the great equalizer of man and proved to be more powerful than birth and caste..
well.. not really.. it allowed a few to do that.. so definitely not an equalizer..
to sum up.. we find same ambiguity of freedom .. the individual is free from bondage of econ/political ties..
again.. not everyone.. so really.. no one truly free
but too freed from ties that used to give him security and belonging..t
he is free.. that is , he is alone, isolated, threatened from all sides..
these feelings must be alleviated if the individual is to function successfully
2 – the period of the reformation
since this book is devoted mainly to freedom as a burden and danger, the following analysis, being intentionally one-sided, stresses the side in luther’ s and calvin’s doctrines in which this negative aspect of freedom is rooted: their emphasis on the fundamental evilness and powerless ness of man
doubt is the starting point of modern philosophy; the need to silence it had a most powerful stimulus on the development of modern philosophy and science
the doubt itself well not disappear as long as man does not overcome his isolation and as long as his place in the world has not become a meaningful one in terms of his human needs
the new character structure, resulting from econ and social changes and intensified by religious doctrines (calvin and luther), became in its turn an important factor in shaping the future social/econ development. those very qualities rooted in this character structure: compulsion to work; passion for thrift; readiness to make one’s life a tool for the purposes of an extra personal power; asceticism; and a compulsive sense of duty.. were character traits which became productive forces in capitalistic society and w/o which modern econ and social development are unthinkable; they were the specific forms into which human energy was shaped and in which it became one of the productive forces w/in the social process..
4 – the two aspects of freedom for modern man
another ie: we feel that freedom of speech is the last step in the march of victory of freedom. we forget that, although freedom of speech constitutes and important victory in the battle against old restraints, modern man is in a position where much of what ‘he’ thinks and says are things that everybody else thinks and says; that he has not acquired the ability to think originally – that is, for himself – which alone gives meaning to his claim that nobody can interfere w the expression of his thoughts.. .. we are proud that in his conduct of life man has become free from external authorities, which tell him what to do and what not to do. we neglect the role of the anonymous authorities like public opinion and ‘common sense’ which are so powerful because of our profound readiness to conform to the expectations everybody has about ourselves and our equally profound fear of being different.
we have to gain a new kind of freedom, one which enable us to realize our own individual self, to have faith in this self and in life..
(on the emphasis on the wickedness of man).. thus luther and calvin psychologically prepared man for the role which he had to assume in modern society: of feeling his own self to be insignificant and of being ready to subordinate his life exclusively for purposes which were not his own…. prepared to accept the role of a servant to the economic machine – and eventually a ‘fuhrer’..
how can we reconcile the fact that objectively he became a servant to ends which were not his, and yet that subjectively he believed himself to be motivated by his self interest
the assumption underlying the thinking of luther and calvin and also that of kant and freud, is: selfishness is identical w self love.. to love others is a virtue, to love oneself is a sin, .. furthermore, love for others and love for oneself are mutually exclusive..
theoretically we meet here w a fallacy concerning the natural of love is not primarily ’caused’ by a specific object, but a lingering quality in a person which is only actualized by a certain ‘object’.. exclusive love is a contradiction in itself..
the kind of love which can only be experienced w regard to one person demonstrates by this very fact that it is not love but a sado-masochistic attachment..
if an individual has this readiness (ability for affirmation) he has it also toward himself; if he can only ‘love’ others, he cannot love at all..
selfishness is not identical w self love but w its very opposite. selfishness is one kind of greediness.. like all greediness, it contains an insatiability , as a consequence of which there is never any real satisfaction.. always restless, always driven by the fear of not getting enough, of missing something, of being deprived of something. he is fille w burning envy of anyone who might have more.. if we observe still closer, esp the unconscious dynamics, we find that this type of person is basically not fond of himself, but deeply dislikes himself..
selfishness is rooted in this very lack of fondness for oneself.. the person who is not found of himself.. who does not approve of himself, is in constant anxiety concerning his own self…. the same holds true w the so called narcissistic person, who is not so much concerned w getting things for himself as w admiring himself.. while on the surface.. it seems these person are very much in love w selves.. they actually are not .. their narcissism/selfishness.. is an overcompensation for the basic lack of self love..
man has built his world;.. factories, houses, cars, clothes.. grain.. fruit. but he has become estranged from the product of his own hands, he is not really the master any more of the world he has built.. on the contrary, this man made world has become his master.. the work of his own hands has become his god.. he seems to be driven by self interest, but in reality his total self w all its concert potentialities has become an instrument for the purposes of the very machines his hands have built.. he keeps up the illusion of being the center of the world, and yet he is pervaded by an intense sense of insignificance and powerless ness which his ancestors once consciously felt toward god..
modern man’s feeling of isolation and powerlessness is increases still further by the character which all his human relationship have assumed.. .. lost its direct and human character and has assumed a spirit of manipulation and instrumentality…in all social and personal relations the laws of the market are the ruled.. it is obvious that the relationship between competitors has to be based on mutual human indifference..
the word ’employer’ contains the whole story: the owner of capital employs another human being as he ’employes’ a machine.. t.. they both use each other for the pursuit of their economic interests; their relationship is one in which both are means to an end.. it is not a relationship of two human being who have any interest in the other outside of this mutual usefulness.. same instrumentality is the rule in the relationship between the business man and his customer.. the customer is an object to be manipulated, not a concrete person whose aims the business man is interested to satisfy.. not primarily interested in what he produces; he produces essentially in order to make a profit.. and what he produces depends essentially on the market
not only the economic, but also the personal relations between men have this character of alienation; instead of relations between human beings, they assume the character of relations between things.. t.. but perhaps the most important and the most devastating instance of this spirit of instrumentality and alienation is the individual’s relationship to his own self.
man does not only sell commodities, he sells himself and feels himself to be a commodity..t the manual laborer sells his physical energy; the businessman/physician/cleric.. sell their ‘personality’… as with any other commodity it is the market which decides the value of these human qualities, yes, even their very existence.. if there is no use for the qualities a person offers, he has none; … thus.. the self confidence, the ‘feeling of self’ is merely an indication of what others think of the person..t.. it is not he who is convinced of his value.. if he is sought after, he is somebody; if he is not popular, he is simply nobody..
spot on. wilde not us law
this does not mean that advertising and political propaganda overtly stress the individual’s insignificance. quite the contrary; they flatter the individual by making him appear important, and by pretending that they appeal to his critical judgment.. but these pretences are essentially a method to dull the individual’s suspicions and to help him fool himself as to the individual character of his decision..
to have a job – regardless of what kind of a job it is – seems to many all they could want of life and something they should be grateful for..
job less ness
the threat of war has also added to the feeling of individual powerlessness….since the last war the possibilities of destruction have increased..
julian green: ‘i knew that we counted little in comparison w the universe, i knew we were nothing; but to be so immeasurably nothing seems in some way both to overwhelm and at the same time to reassure.. is there anything whatsoever to which we can cling?.. there is one thing that stands out as true.. and that is .. love.. all the rest is nothingness.. and empty void’
let go of the things you have to cling to
this feeling of isolation/powerlessness.. is nothing the average normal person is aware of.. it is too frightening.. it is covered over by the *daily routine of his activities, by the assurance and **approval he finds in his private or social relations, by success in business, by any number of ***distractions.. by ‘having fun’..’going places’.. .. people cannot stand it forever.. they cannot go on bearing the burden of ‘freedom from’.. they must try to escape from freedom altogether unless they can progress from negative to positive freedom.. the principal social avenues of escape in our time are the submission to a leader, as has happened in fascist countries.. and the ****compulsive conforming as is prevalent in our own democracy..
a necessary part of our whole discussion (on fascism and automization of man in modern democracy): in our effort to escape from aloneness and powerlessness.. we are ready to get rid of our individual self either by submission to new forms of authority or by a *compulsion conforming to accepted patterns..
*public consensus always oppresses someone
5 – mechanisms of escape
the term normal or healthy can be defined in two ways. firstly, from standpoint of a functioning society, one can call a person normal or healthy if he is able to fulfill the social role he is to take in that given society.. more concretely this means that he is able to work in the fashion which is required in that particular society..
wow.. disagree.. ie: krishnamurti measure law
secondly, optimum of growth and happiness of individual
if structure of society were such that it offered optimum possibility for individual happiness, both viewpoints would coincide.. however this is not the case in most societies we know.. including our own.. there is a discrepancy between the aims of the smooth functioning of society and of the full development of the individual
ok..whew.. yeah..krishnamurti measure law
most psychiatrists take the structure of their own society so much for granted that to them the person who is not well adapted assumes the stigma of being less valuable. on the other hand the well adapted person is supposed to be the more valuable person in terms of a scale of human values.. if we differentiate the two concepts of normal and neurotic, we come to following conclusion: the person whose normal in terms of being well adapted is often less healthy than the neurotic person in germs of human values. often he is well adapted only at the expense of having given up his self in order to become more or less the person he believes he is expected to be.. on the other hand the neurotic person can be characterized as somebody who was not ready to surrender completely in the battle for his self…. from the standpoint of human values, he is less crippled…
mechs of escape:
1\ authoritarianism: give up independence to sue one’s self w somebody else
both the masochistic and sadistic strivings tend to help the individual to escape his unbearable feeling of aloneness and powerlessness..
the individual finds himself ‘free’ in the negative sense that is, alone w his self and confronting an alienated, hostile world..
if i can overcome the awareness of my separateness as an individual, i may save myself from this conflict. to feel utterly small and helpless is one way toward this aim; to be overwhelmed by pain and agony another; to be overcome the effects of intoxication still another.. the fantasy of suicide is the last hope if all other means have not succeeded in bringing relief from the burden of aloneness
saved from making decision, saved from the final responsibility for the fate of his self, and thereby saved from the doubt of what decision to make.. also saved from doubt of what the meaning of his life is or who ‘he’ is.. these questions are answered by the relationship to the power to which he has attached himself.. the meaning his life and the id of his self are determined by the greater whole in to which the self has emerged..
his failure is not essentially the result of his not having chosen the right magic person; it is the direct result of having tried to obtain by the manipulation of a magic force that which..
..only the individual can achieve himself by his own spontaneous activity
as long as the infant is small it is quite naturally dependent on the parents, but his dependence does not necessarily imply a restriction of the child’s own spontaneity. however, when the parents, acting as the agents of society,
..start to suppress the child’s spontaneity
..and independence, the growing child feels more and more unable to stand on its own feet.. it therefore seeks for the magic helper and often makes the parents the personification of ‘him’.. later on, the individual transfers these feelings to somebody else, for ie.. to a teacher, husband, psychoanalyst..
by the thwarting of the child’s expansiveness and spontaneity and by the consequent anxiety
cope\ing ness.. school does this well
what we can observe at the kernel of every neurosis, as well as of *normal development, is the struggle for freedom and independence. for many normal persons this struggle has ended in a complete giving up of their individual selves, so that they are thus well adapted and considered to be normal. the **neurotic person is the one who has not given up fighting against complete submission, .. t.. but how, as the same time, has remained bound to the figure of the magic helper, .. his neurosis is always to be understood as an attempt, and essentially an ***unsuccessful one, to solve the conflict between the basic dependency and the quest for freedom
*do we know what that is..?
***normal’s are unsuccessful as well.. and more invisible.. so.. more deadly..? ie: less free
2 \ destructive ness: the destruction of the world is the last, almost desperate attempt to save myself from being crushed by it.. sadism (under authoritarianism) tends to strengthen the atomized individual by the domination over others; destructiveness by the absence of any threat from the outside..
there is virtually nothing that is not used as a rationalization for destructiveness. love, duty, conscience, patriotism..t
if other persons cannot become the object of an individual’s destructiveness, his own self easily becomes the object.. ie: suicide
it would seem that the amount of destructiveness to be found in individuals is proportionate to the amount to which expansiveness of life is curtailed. (blockage of spontaneity of growth/expression)..t
the more drive for life (inner dynamism) is thwarted, the stronger is the drive toward destruction; the more life is realized, the less is the strength of destructiveness..
destructiveness is the outcome of unlived life..t
this is why gershenfeld sel would work..
the root of destructiveness in the lower middle class is easily recognizable as the one which has been assumed in this discussion: the isolation of the individual and the suppression of individual expansiveness, both of which were true to a higher degree for the lower middle class than for the classes above or below..
3\ automaton conformity: mech of escape which is the greatest social significance.. majority of normal individuals find.. individual ceases to be himself..
individual ceases to be himself; he adopts entirely the kind of personality offered to him by cultural patterns; he therefore becomes exactly as all others are and as they expect him to be.. the person who gives up his individual self and becomes an automaton, identical w millions of other automatons around him, need not feel alone and anxious any more. but the price he pays, however, is high; is it the loss of his self..
contradicts one of most widespread ideas concerning man in our culture.. the majority of us are supposed to be individuals who are free to think, feel, act as they please. to be sure this is not only the general opinion on the subject of modern individualism, but also each individual sincerely believes that this is ‘he’ and that his thoughts, feelings, wishes are ‘his’.. yet, although there are true individuals among us, this belief is an illusion in most cases and a dangerous one ..t.. for that matter, as it blocks the removal of those conditions that are responsible for this state of affairs..
huge. huge. huge.
we are dealing here w one of the most fundamental problems of psychology which can most quickly be opened up by a series of question. what is the self? what is the nature of those acts that give only the illusion of being the person’s own acts? what is spontaneity?what is an original mental act? finally, what has all this to do w freedom?
when we say ‘i think’ this seems to be a clear and unambiguous statement. the only question seems to be whether what i think is right or wrong, not whether or not i think it..t
the decisive point is not what is thought but how it is thought..
he was not aware that the gaiety was not ‘his’ since he is so accustomed too feel wh at he is supposed to feel in a particular situation..
most people are convinced that as long as they are not overtly forced to do something by an outside power, their decision are theirs, and that if they want something, it is they who want it.. but ..
this is one of the great illusions we have about ourselves.. a great number of our decisions are not really our own but are suggested to us from the outside..t
..we have succeeded in persuading ourselves that it is we who have made the decision, whereas we have actually conformed w expectations of others, driven by the fear of isolation and by more direct threats to our life, freedom and comfort
when children are asked whether they want to go to school every day, and their answer is ‘of course i do’ is the answer true? in many cases certainly not.. he feels that he is expected to want to go to school every day.. and this pressure is strong enough to submerge the feeling that he goes so often only because he has to..
.. the pressure of the sense of duty is great enough to give him the feeling that ‘he’ wants what he is supposed to want..t
it is a general assumption that most men marry voluntarily.. finds himself caught in a sequence of events which leads to marriage and seems to block every escape.. all the months leading up to his marriage he is firmly convinced ‘he’ wants to marry, and the first and rather belated indication that that may not be so is the fact that on the day of his marriage he suddenly gets panicky and feels an impulse to run away. if he is ‘sensible’ this feeling lasts only for a few minutes..
we could quote many more instance in daily life.. in which people seem to make decisions, seem to want something, but actually follow the internal or external pressure of ‘having’ to want the thing they are going to do..
it almost seems that ‘original’ decision is a comparatively rare phenom in a society which supposedly makes individual decision the cornerstone of its existence..t
though on the surface he thought that he had arranged his life according to his own plans, he can feel not that deeper down he was filled w a sense of resignation.. he realizes that he was convinced that he could not do what he wanted but had to conform w what was expected of him..
for many people if not most, the original self is completely suffocated by the pseudo self
the loss of self and its substitution by a pseudo self leave the individual in an intense state of insecurity.. he is obsessed by doubt since, being essentially a reflex of other people’s expectation of him, he has in a measure lost his id.. in order to overcome the panic resulting from such loss of id, he is compelled to conform, to seek his id by continuous approval and recognition by others.. since he does not know who he is, at least the others will know.. if he acts according to their expectation; if they know, he will know too, if he only takes their word for it..
next chapter.. shows this in germany.. mostly via authoritarian mech.. in last ch of this book.. will show our democracy.. mostly via the automaton ..
6 – psychology of nazism
it seems that nothing is more difficult for the average man to bear than the feeling of not being identified w a larger group.. however much a german citizen may be opposed to the principles of nazism, if he has to choose between being alone and feeling that he belongs to germany, most persons will choose the latter..
if the savings of many years, for which one had sacrificed so many little pleasures, could be lost thru no fault of one’s own, what was the point in saving anyway.. if the state could break it s promises printed on its bank notes and lanes, whose promises could one trust any longer..?
the vast majority of the population was seized w the feeling of individual insignificance and powerless ness.. which we have described as typical for monopolistic capitalism in general
it is essential to understand that the very principle of nazism is its radical opportunism
inwardly they are far more satisfied by a doctrine which tolerates no rival than by the grant of liberal freedom
he does not even hesitate to admit that physical tiredness of his audience is a most welcome condition or their suggestibility..
‘the mass meeting is necessary if only for the reason that in it the individual, who is becoming adherent of a new movement feels lonely and is easily seized w the fear of being alone, receives for the first time the pictures of a greater community.. something that has a strengthening and encouraging effect on most people.. he himself succumbs to the magic influence of what we call mass suggestion
public consensus always oppresses someone(s)
the same emphasis on power is also present in hitler’s formulation of the aims of education. he says that the pupil’s ‘entire education and development has to be directed at giving him the conviction of being absolutely superior to the others’
the fact that somewhere else he declares that a boy should be taught to suffer injustice w/o rebelling will no longer strike the reader – or so i hope – as strange..
sometimes it is put in less offensive forms by emphasizing that to be ruled is just what the masses wish..
sometimes.. the necessity to flatter the masses and therefore to hide the cynical contempt for them leads to tricks like: in speaking of the instinct of self preservation, which for hitler as we shall see is more or less identical w the drive for power.. he says that w the aryan the instinct for self preservation has reached the most noble form ‘because he willingly subjects his own ego to the life of the community and, if the hour should require it, he also sacrifices it’
in recent years (this book written in 41.. holocaust in 45).. his assurances that his aim is not only the welfare of germany but that this actions serve the best interests of civilization in general have become well known to very newspaper reader
the masses (under hitler) are told again and again: the individual is nothing and does not count… the individual should accept his personal insignificance, dissolve himself in a higher power, and then feel proud in participating in the strength and glory of this higher power.. hitler expresses this idea clearly in his defn of idealism: ‘idealism alone leads men to voluntary acknowledgment of the privilege of force and strength and thus makes them become a dust particle of thar order which forms and shapes the entire universe’
goebels gives a similar defn of what he calls socialism: ‘to be a socialist is to submit the i to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole’
sacrificing the individual and reducing it to a bit of dust/atom.. implies, according to hitler, the renunciation of their right to asset one’s individual opinion, interests, and happiness.. this renunciation is the essence of a political organization in which ‘the individual renounces representing his personal opinion and his interest’
we’re so messed up
he praises ‘unselfishness; and teaches that ‘in the hunt for their own happiness, people fall all the more out of heaven into hell’.. it is the aim of education to teach the individual not to assert his self.. already the boy in school must learn ‘to be silent, not only when he is blamed justly but he has also to learn, if necessary, to bear injustice in silence’ ..
hitler recognizes clearly hat his philosophy of self denial and sacrifice is meant for those whose economic situation does not allow them any happiness.. .. he wants to exploit the very poverty of the masses in order to make them believe in his evangelism of self annihilation..
the masses have to resign themselves and submit if the wish for power on the side of he leader and the ‘elite’ is to be realized.
he then goes on to say that the whole german people must be united in one state because only then, when this state would be too small for the small, necessity would give them ‘the moral right to acquire soil and territory
the power which impresses hitler probably more than god, providence, and fate, is nature. while it was the trend of the historical development of the last 400 yrs to replace the domination over men by the domination of nature, hitler insisted that one can and should rule over men but that one cannot rule over nature. i have already quoted his saying that the history of mankind probably did not start w the domestication of animals but w the domination over inferior people.. he ridicules the idea th man could conquer nature..’whereas they have no other weapon at their disposal but an ‘idea” .. nature is the great power we have to submit to, but living beings are the ones we should dominate
a hierarchy was created in which everyone has somebody above him to submit to and somebody beneath him to feel power over..
the process of destruction of the medieval world has taken 400 yrs and is being complete in our era.. *unless the whole industrial system, the whole mode of production, should be destroyed and changed to the preindustrial level, man will remain an individual who has completely emerged from the world surrounding him..
*yeah.. let’s do that
we can re emerge/fill ourselves.. ie: almaas holes law
7 – freedom and democracy
1\ the illusion of individuality
although foreign and internal threats of fascism must be taken seriously, there is no greater mistake and no graver danger than not to see that in our own society we are faced w the same phenom that is fertile soil for the rise of fascism anywhere: the insignificance and powerless ness of the individual
this statement challenges the conventional belief that by freeing the individual from all external restraints modern democracy has achieved true indivdualism…we are proud we are not subject to any external authority, that we are free to express our thoughts/feelings, and we take it for granted that this freedom almost automatically guarantees our individuality.. the right to express our thoughts, however, means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own…t
the suppression of spontaneous feelings and thereby for the development of genuine individuality, starts very early, as a matter of fact w the earliest training of a child..t
in our culture.. ed too often results in the elimination of spontaneity and in the substitution of original psychic acts by superimposed feelings/thoughts/wishes..
(by original i do not mean, let me repeat, that an idea has not been thought before by someone else, but that it originates in the individual, that it is the result of his own activity and in this sense is his thought)
this is why 2 convos matters to equity (everyone getting a go everyday).. everyone starts each day w self-talk – about curiosities(what matters to them.. right then).. and has the freedom/bravery to change their mind.. the it is me ness
to choose one illustration .. one of earliest suppression of feelings concerns hostility and dislike. to start w, most children have a certain measure of hostility and rebelliousness as a result of their conflicts w a surrounding world that tends to block their expansiveness and to which, as the weaker opponent, they usually have to yield.. it is one of the essential aims of the ed process to eliminate this antagonist reaction. the methods are different; they vary from threats/punishments, which frighten the child, to the subtler methods of bribery or ‘explanation’ which confuse the child and make him give up his hostility..
together w that, he is taught to suppress the awareness of hostility and insecurity in others; sometimes this is not entirely easy, since children have a capacity for noticing such negative qualities in others w/o being so easily deceived by words as adults usually are..
not yet scrambled ness
on the other hand, early in his ed, the child is taught to have feelings that are not at all ‘his’.. t..particularly is he taught to like people.. to be uncritically friendly to them and to smile..
if you do not smile you prejudged lacking in a ‘pleasing personality’ and you need to have a pleasing personality *if you want to sell your services.. only those at the bottom (who sell physical labor ) and those at top do not need to be particularly ‘pleasant’.. friendliness.. cheerfulness.. and everything that a smile is supposed to express, become automatic responses which one turns on and off like an electric switch.
*our messed up idea of work
in may instances.. the person is aware of merely making a gesture.. in most cases however. he loses the awareness and thereby the ability to discriminate between the pseudo feeling and spontaneous friendliness..
we’re so not us (so clear w mom)
in our society emotions in general are discouraged.. to be ’emotional’ has become synonymous w being unsound or unbalanced.. by the acceptance of this standard the individual has become greatly weakened; his thinking is impoverish and flattened..
on the other hand, since emotions cannot be completely killed, they must have their existence totally apart from the intellectual side of the personality; the result is the cheap and insincere sentimentality w which movies and popular songs feed millions of emotional starved customers..
whoa.. good stuff..
in addition to the factors just mentioned there are others which actively tend to confuse whatever is left of the capacity for original thinking in the avg adult.. .. a great sector in our society has just one function: to befog the issues.. one kind of smokescreen is the assertion that the problems are too complicated for the avg individual to grasp.. on the contrary *it would seem that many of the basic issues of individual and social life are very simple, so simple, in fact, that everyone should be expected to understand them..t
to let them appear to be so enormously complicated that only a ‘specialist’ can understand them, and he only in his own limited field, actually – and often intentionally – tends to discourage people from trusting their own capacity to think about those problems that really matter
modern man seems, if anything, to have too many wishes and his only problem seems to be that, although he knows what he wants, he cannot have it. all our energy is spent for the purpose of getting what we want, and most people never question the premise of this activity: that they *know their true wants..t.. they do not stop to think whether the aims they are pursuing are something they themselves want.
*self-talk as data
modern man lives under the illusion that he know what he wants, while he actually wants what he is supposed to want.. t
because we have freed ourselves of the older overt forms of authority, we do not see that we have become the prey of a new kind of authority. we have become automatons who live under the illusion of being self willing individuals..
giving up spontaneity and individuality results in a thwarting of life..
2\ freedom and spontaneity
we believe there is a positive.. man can be free and yet not alone.. this freedom man can attain by the realization of his self, by being himself..t
beyond the act of thinking..
..positive freedom consists in the spontaneous activity of the total, integrated personality..
we approach here one of the most difficult problems of psychology: the problem of spontaneity.. latin sponte means: of one’s free will..t
ie’s to glimpse spontaneity: mostly known to us as artists.. as a matter of fact, the artist can be defined as an individual who can express himself spontaneously.. t.. if this is defn.. then certain philosophers and scientist have to be called artist too..
and so.. let’s do this first: free art/ists
small children are an other ie of spontaneity.. they have an ability to feel and think that which is really theirs..
not yet scrambled ness
if one asks what makes for the attraction small children have for most people.. i believe.. the answer must be this very quality of spontaneity.. it appeals profoundly to everyone who is not so dead himself tha the has lost the ability to perceive it..
as a matter of fact, there is nothing more attractive and convincing than spontaneity whether it is to be found in a child, in an artist, or in those individuals who cannot thus be grouped according to age or profession..t
most of us can observe at least moments of our own spontaneity which are at the same time moments of genuine happiness..t
why is spontaneous activity the answer to the problem of freedom? – spontaneous activity is the one way in which man can overcome the terror of aloneness w/o sacrificing the integrity of his self; ..t.. love is the foremost component of such spontaneity.. not as dissolution of self.. or possession of another.. but as spontaneous affirmation of others, the dynamic quality of love lies in this very polarity: that it springs from the need of overcoming separateness.. it leads to oneness.. and yet that individuality is not eliminated..
work is the other.. work as creation.. in which man become one w nature in the act of creation..
in all spontaneous activity the individual embraces the world, not only does his individual self remain intact; it becomes stronger and more solidified. for the self is as strong as it is active..
the inability to act spontaneously, to express what he genuinely feels and thinks, and the resulting necessity to present a pseudo self to others and oneself, are the root of the feeling of inferiority and weakness.. t
whether or not we are aware of it, there is nothing of which we are more ashamed than of not being ourselves.
when regard personal qualities as commodities.. emphasis shifts from present.. to finished product.. thereby man misses the only satisfaction that can give him real happiness – the experience of the activity of the present moment – and chases after phantom.. the illusory happiness called success
there is only one meaning of life: the act of living itself
the new security is dynamic; it is not based on protection, but on man’s spontaneous activity.. it is the security acquired each moment by man’s spontaneous activity. it is the security that only freedom can give, that needs no illusions because it has eliminated those conditions that necessitate illusions.. t
organic growth is possible only under the condition of supreme respect for the peculiarity of the self of other persons as well as of our own self.. this respect for and cultivation of the uniqueness of the self is the most valuable achievement of human culture and it is this very achievement that is in danger today..t
(on.. won’t this freedom lead to anarchy.. where anarchy is defined: egotism and *destructiveness) **this freedom has never been realized in the history of mankind.. t
positive freedom .. is identical w the full realization of the individual’s potentialities, together w his ability to live actively and spontaneously..
the cultural/political crisis of our day is not due to the fact that there is too much individualism but that what we believe to be individualism has become an empty shell..t
the direction in which i believe the solution to lie.. we cannot afford to lose any of the fundamental achievement of modern democracy – either the fundamental one of the *rep govt.. govt elected by people.. or any of the rights which bill of rights guarantees every citizens
progress from democracy lies in enhancing the actual freedom.. (initiative.. spontaneity) of the individual.. what are the general conditions for that..?
all that matters is that we establish a rational econ system serving the purposes of the people..
all that matters is that the opportunity for genuine activity be restored to the individual; that the **purposes of society and of his own become identical. not ideologically but in reality..t
a powerful bureaucracy manipulates the vast mass of the population.. t
never have words been more misused in order to conceal truth than today.. betrayal of allies: appeasement; military aggression: defense; .. democracy, freedom, indivdualism..
planning from top is blended w active participation from below… combiningg centralization w decentralization.. is one of major tasks of society.. it is to be solved.. only if we clearly recognize the necessity of doing so and if we *have faith in the people,..t.. in their capacity to take care of their real interests as human beings.. t
by adapting himself to social conditions man develops those traits that make him desire to act as he has to act
the social character internalizes external *necessities.. which builds up an inner authority – conscience and duty – which operates more effectively in controlling than any external authority
the social function of ed is to qualify the individual to function in the role he is to play later on in society; that is, to mold his character in such a way that it approximates the social character..
parents (& variations) apply the ed patterns of society they live in.. the family may be considered to be the psychological agent of society.. namely.. *rep of this very spirits
see how bad rep ing is..
for an infant who had confidence in the unconditional love of his mother, the sudden interruption of breast feeding will not have any grave characterological consequences; the infant who experiences a lack of reliability in the mother’s love may acquire ‘oral’ traits even though the feeding process went on w/o any particular disturbances.. it’s the relatedness to others..
from amazon description of the sane society:
The Sane Society is a continuation and extension of the brilliant psychiatric concepts Erich Fromm first formulated in Escape from Freedom..